Captain William Drage was a legendary riverboat man of the Murray River paddle steamer era. In his book, Riverboats and Rivermen, co-authored with Michael Page in 1976, he wrote “I was a river lad from the moment I was born at Renmark on the Murray River, on 30 May 1901. I was even christened aboard a steamboat: the old Etona that was run by the Church of England as a mission steamer to visit the little settlements along the river”.
Well after that pioneering period declined the legendary William “Bill” Drage captained one of the first popular passenger cruise boats that operated from the Renmark wharf in the 1960’s, the Showboat Trix. He had crossed into tourism and such was his character and knowledge that he was an attraction in his own right. His commentary was inspirational.
In his book, I take the following words as some of the most insightful and spiritual descriptions of the Murray River I have ever read, and it always reminds me of summer. You too can experience this feeling when you sit on a peaceful bend of the Murray River and imagine the scenes inspired by the words of Captain Bill Drage.
“For anyone with eyes to see and a mind to feel with, the beauty of the river offered many rewards. I can remember countless tranquil days when the steamboat rounded one bend after another and each new stretch of the river seemed like a revelation even though I’d traversed it many times before. The great gums that thronged along the banks were reflected in the mirror-like surface, the quiet air was warm and still, the sky overhead was that deep, intense, and cloudless blue of the inland. The steady chugging of the engine and the rhythmic churning of the paddles, accompanied by the steady rippling splash of the wake as it spread out behind us and broke against the banks, somehow did not seem out of place. It was only a momentary intrusion and I knew that when we had passed by the silence would return: the serene dreaming silence of the river in summertime.”